U.S. Rep. Larry Kissell visited the Centre Presbyterian Church Ingathering in Maxton this week for some barbecue and fellowship on the church grounds.
The annual event has taken place in one form or another since the mid 1920s and attracts diners from Scotland County and the surrounding area. This year the event sold nearly a ton of barbecue pork, barbecue chicken and chicken salad.
Current and former congregation members prepared and served food and reminisced about by-gone years of the event, how it has changed, and how it has stayed the same. Gas has replaced wood-fired smoke in the cookhouse, but the sense of a community coming together has survived.
“I’ve been coming to these since I was a little girl,” said Diane Dixon. “This started in the Great Depression as a way for people to support the church at time when no one had any money. People would donate hogs, and baked goods and their time and the money raised would help support the church for the year.”
Dixon and others told Kissell that in previous years, governors and various other state and federal officials have made the trip to Maxton to meet and greet and eat. Kissell explained that he was proud to be part of that tradition.
“Events like the Ingathering at Centre Presbyterian are a perfect example of the tradition in our part of the world of people coming together to build strong, supportive communities,” Kissell said. “I was proud to be here and thankful to have been welcomed so warmly by the volunteers and community members who make this great event possible. This is truly a special place and a special event.”
Kissell was joined at the event by his eighth grade teacher, Harold Curry.
“When you teach a young person, they stay part of your life,” Curry said. “I’m very proud of Larry. He was a good young man in school and a good student.”
Curry, who was also Kissell’s football coach at Biscoe Elementary School, brought an old team photo from the period and visited with Kissell about the days shared between the two of them years ago in the classroom and on the football field.
Kissell, himself a former school teacher, called Curry a role model and an excellent and energetic teacher.
“Mr. Curry was a very good teacher and he embodied that sense of self sacrifice and dedication that is required to be a good teacher,” Kissell said. “I was thrilled to get to spend some time with him today and catch up on the people we knew and the memories we shared so many years ago.”